Spain vs Sweden - 5 key battles to watch out for in top Group B encounter | 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Sweden previously ended Spain's 66-game unbeaten run in qualifiers in September.
Sweden previously ended Spain's 66-game unbeaten run in qualifiers in September.
Sachin Bhat

Spain host Sweden at the Estadio La Cartuja in Sevilla tonight in their final group game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. A direct spot in the Qatar showpiece is on the line, as the two teams are separated by just one point in Group B.

La Roja are leading with 16 points and will qualify with a draw. But the Blagult, who're trailing Spain by a point, need a win, else they'll drop into the playoffs. They did beat the 2010 world champions in the reverse fixture in September, though, recovering from an early setback to win 2-1 in Solna.

However, can they repeat the trick away from home?

πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ͺ Final preparations... πŸ’ͺScore predictions for Spain vs Sweden?@svenskfotboll | #WCQ

Until the penultimate round of games, Sweden held a two-point advantage over Spain. But their shock 2-0 loss to Georgia on Friday coupled with Spain's victory against Georgia on the same day has shifted the initiative back in La Roja's favour.

Ahead of the tasty clash, here's a look at the five key player battles that could determine the outcome of this clash:

#5 Emil Forsberg (Sweden) vs Dani Carvajal (Spain)

Sweden's secret sauce Emil Forsberg
Sweden's secret sauce Emil Forsberg

Emil Forsberg has enjoyed his most productive year with Sweden yet, scoring seven times from 12 games in 2021. Most of these strikes came at Euro 2020, where he played a starring role for the Blagult. But the bottom line is that Forsberg's a huge threat.

Known for his quick and effective passing and exceptional creative skills, the RB Leipzig star is often the driving force behind Sweden's attacking plays.

4 of the 5 goals scored by Sweden this #EURO2020 have been scored by Emil Forsberg! πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ͺ🌟

Dani Carvajal will be the man tasked with stopping Forsberg in his tracks on Sunday. That would be no mean feat, but the Real Madrid star comes with a wealth of experience.

The 29-year-old is an excellent reader of the game, and times his tackles to perfection. He should have one eye on Forsberg before he breaks into his trademark forward runs, though.

#4 Alvaro Morata (Spain) vs Victor Lindelof (Sweden)

Alvaro Morata hasn't scored in the World Cup qualifiers since March.
Alvaro Morata hasn't scored in the World Cup qualifiers since March.

Alvaro Morata hasn't scored in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers since his strike on the opening matchday against Greece. In a key game like this, though, Luis Enrique will hope to have Morata firing on all cylinders again.

Morata is the most prolific player in the squad, with 22 goals in 48 games. He is also effective in Spain's build-up, thanks to his efficient passing and intelligent movements.

Victor Lindelof’s game by the numbers vs. Georgia:90 minutes played 93% pass accuracy 5 duels won4 clearances3 interceptions1 tackle won

The job of keeping Morata in check will fall on the shoulders of Victor Lindelof, who endured a torrid game against Georgia. Lindelof was at fault for both their goals on the night. So the Manchester United star must regain his composure if Sweden are to keep Morata quiet.

Sweden's Player of the Year in 2018, Lindelof has been going through the motions lately. But he'll have to muster every ounce of his defensive skills tonight, as there's no room for error.

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Edited by Bhargav

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